Bill aims to keep space station going until 2030

Starliner and space station
An artist’s conception shows a Boeing Starliner space taxi approaching the International Space Station. (Boeing Illustration)

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., has joined with three other U.S. senators in introducing a NASA authorization bill that aims to extend federal support for International Space Station to 2030.

The bill voices support for NASA’s Artemis campaign to explore the moon in preparation for missions to Mars. But it doesn’t mention NASA’s 2024 deadline for the astronauts’ first landing. Instead, the legislation urges NASA to “collaborate with commercial and international partners to establish lunar exploration by 2028” — which had been NASA’s plan until April.

It also backs NASA’s plans for a space-based infrared survey telescope designed to scan the skies for potentially hazardous near-Earth objects, and sets a 2025 launch deadline for that project.

Cantwell is a co-sponsor of the bipartisan bill in part because she’s the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which plays a lead role in NASA-related matters.

The other co-sponsors are Roger Wicker, R-Miss., the Commerce Committee’s chair; Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who chairs the Senate aviation and space subcommittee; and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., that subcommittee’s ranking Democratic member.

The upshot of the bill is that the senators are in favor of what NASA is aiming to do, but not necessarily on the same timetable.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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